Abu Dhabi, UAE’s conservative capital, ends alcohol licenses

Dubai, September 21

Abu Dhabi, the conservative capital of the United Arab Emirates, is eliminating its licensing system for alcohol purchases for drinkers after Dubai repeatedly loosened its personal guidelines to spice up gross sales and tourism amid the continued coronavirus pandemic.

The emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism introduced the brand new guidelines in a round dated final week to distributors and liquor shops, however in any other case didn’t publicize the choice. Government officers didn’t reply to requests for touch upon Monday from The Associated Press.

Previously, people had wanted a license to buy, transport or have alcohol of their properties. But the brand new guidelines seem to solely set an age restrict of 21 and require drinkers to eat the drinks inside non-public properties or different licensed areas like bars. That would permit Muslims who had been barred from acquiring licenses to have the ability to buy from retailers.

“We would like to announce the cancellation of alcohol licenses for individuals,” the round mentioned. “Residents and tourists will be permitted to buy and possess alcohol from licensed retail shops, and are allowed to drink within tourism and hotel establishments, clubs and independent outlets.”

Abu Dhabi, like Dubai, has bars at inns and different places that serve prospects with out checking for licenses or asking about an individual’s faith. But the oil-rich capital house to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque lengthy has been extra conservative than the entrepot of Dubai, whose huge array of bars, lounges and nightclubs provide imbibers a second for a quiet beer or a shouting, bass-thumping get together full with sparkler-laden Champagne bottles.

Eliminating the licenses additionally would decriminalize alcohol possession, though the Emirates maintains a strict no-tolerance coverage on drunk driving and public intoxication.

Alcohol gross sales go on in six of the UAE’s seven sheikhdoms, whereas Sharjah stays dry just like the neighbouring nations of Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. These gross sales present a serious supply of tax income for every emirate’s ruling household, in addition to mirror the arrogance of the UAE’s huge overseas workforce in their very own funds and in flip, the economic system. The UAE’s economic system already stood on shaky floor amid a worldwide stoop in oil costs and collapsing real-estate costs in Dubai.

Overall gross sales of alcohol by quantity within the UAE fell sharply in 2019 to 128.79 million litres (34 million gallons), down some 3.5% from 133.42 million litres (35.2 million gallons) offered the yr earlier than, in accordance with market analysis agency Euromonitor. The 2019 gross sales are down almost 9% from 2017, which noticed 141.51 million litres (37.Three million gallons) offered.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dubai has additional loosened its personal liquor legal guidelines and allowed for house supply of beer, wine and spirits. Dubai additionally simplified its licensing course of, eliminating buy restrictions and the flexibility of employers to dam staff from acquiring a card.

However, these residing in Dubai are nonetheless required to acquire a license to buy, transport or have alcohol of their properties — although many skirt the requirement by buying drinks in different emirates.

The new alcohol rule additionally comes simply after Abu Dhabi ordered inns to supply Kosher meals, a nod towards the UAE normalizing relations with Israel. AP 

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